Sid Caesar: How the Remote Control Ruined Everything

Sid Caesar: How the Remote Control Ruined Everything

Road rage, kids growing up too fast, weak melodies: Blame the remote

In one of his last public appearances, television icon Sid Caesar explained how the remote control has ruined our lives. The device shortened our attention spans, made us less appreciative, and even contributes to road rage, he said.

Caesar, who died Wednesday at 91, spoke about the infernal device in a 2005 Television Critics Association panel for PBS's “Pioneers of Primetime.” Here are his comments about the remote control in their entirety:

The remote control changed our lives, everything.  I mean, before we didn't have remote control, you had — if you wanted to change the station, you got up and you had to walk across the room.  And while you were there, several people said, “Could you make it a little brighter?  Could you turn it down?  No, there's too much red.  Stomp your feet, that's it.  The color is coming, keep stomping.” 

Also read: Larry King Remembers Sid Caesar, Demands Conan Freeze His Corpse (Video)

The remote control took over the timing of the world, that's why you have road rage, you have people who have no patience, because you got immediate gratification. You got click, click, click, click.  If it doesn't explode within three seconds, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, “Ah, nothing on.”

Then you just went pass 15 wonderful shows, but you didn't have the patience to go click, click, click. Everything speeded up. I mean, “Get out of my way. I got to make that red light.”  And it changed the timing of the world. It changed everything.  And that's why today kids are impatient.  They want to grow up immediately. There's no time to grow up. You need time to grow up. You have to make mistakes.  You have to understand the mistakes.

Also read: Sid Caesar, Pioneer of American Comedy, Dead at 91

Every culture is known by its music.  I haven't heard many melodies lately. To think that when we had the melodies, everything would seem to go right. Today, there's no melodies, just the drum. We went the entire circle, by drum all through all the instruments and all the symphonies and this and that and we're back to the drums.

  • Soundstorm

    I was born just as Your Show of Shows was taken off the air so I missed Sid Caesar's epoch in his career. And his comic brilliance remained hidden for many years by his chronic alcoholism. It must have been a major struggle for him to bounce back after his show's cancellation. He thrived in a different world than the one I grew accustomed to as I came of age when classic melodies were ruined by bland muzak arraignments, pop music grew increasingly rhythmic for the purpose of mass hypnosis and comedy degenerated into vulgarity. I always had a sense that something was lost in our culture that we need to get back.